greek female statue
Photo by Zach Jarosz on Pexels

Note to readers: this poem is best viewed on a full-screen device or in mobile desktop mode.

Cassandra’s Defense by Jordan Davidson

I confess this to Persephone before I walk the fields of Elysium,

Less a confession and more of a victory speech won through my teeth,

Yes, I say to her, yes I sent the letter through beacon fires

Enough blood had run down my legs to bleed me human

So human I hungered for Hades and I prayed to human morality

First under Apollo’s ribs then at Athena’s temple,

But all Gods had decided I was another’s,

And for this, I made a decision in kind—

If I was only to be another’s then I would truly be another’s.

Another’s undoing.

Swaddled in the claws of the Erinyes of my girlhood whose desecrated corpse

Tossed and turned so forcefully in the Earth I had to kill her a second time,

I cried out to my next murderer:


Come take what is yours.

Come do with him what you will,

Lie with him, lie against him, lie to him, lie him low.

And gladly, gladly I will die at your hands if you do two things for me.


Kill him like a woman.

And when you kill him like a woman, show him that a woman killing can cut through the

best laid net,

Behead the best and worst of men.

Teach him that for every time he painted a woman purple,

That women prayed for his demise, and together, we bring it most painfully to him.

Persephone, not Zeus, is queen of the underworld.


When you have finished tying him in cloth,

After the last strike of your dagger,

As you look at me with contempt in your eyes and blood on your face,

Debating whether or not to end me like you have ended him,

Bring your knife down.

Give me the mortality that I have so long been denied,

And add my name to the list of those sisters who have fallen before me

For the pleasure of man—

Truly, it will be an honor to die by womanhood.

Because I die with their names on my lips,

For Briseis,

For Chryseis,

For Hecuba,

For Andromache,

For Iphigenia,

For Cassandra.

The child, the seer, the woman, your supplicant.


Jordan Davidson is a student at Yale University where she is currently studying the classical western cannon through a specialized program. It has not only given her a greater appreciation the sheer amount of homeric epithets, but also shown her that she much prefers Greek tragedy to Greek epic. Her work has previously been published in The Common Tongue, Corvid Queen, and Youth Imagination. She was also awarded with a national YoungArts Merit for Excellence In Writing in both 2020 and 2021.

Author's note

I spent my first year of college in a humanities survey course that spanned the “western cannon”, and I was really fascinated by the different representations of women, particularly in the Greek tragedies, and particularly because gender in Ancient Greece is such a complicated, thorny subject that people tend to oversimplify. With this in mind, I wanted to explore the mind of the Oresteia’s Cassandra, from the perspective of Trojan Women’s Cassandra. I also wanted to explore the idea of female unity and shared female vengeance: Cassandra and Clytemnestra joining forces.